Newcastle Knights vs Penrith Panthers: Lineups, preview and prediction

McDonald Jones Stadium will be the site of this Indigenous Round fixture between the Knights and the Panthers.

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Overview

The Knights will host the Panthers in an exciting Indigenous Round clash at McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle. Both teams will be vying for a win in a competitive match after both losing last week.

The Knights lost in disappointing fashion last week, however, drew over 23,000 to their game. This is an impressive figure, but particularly due to its time slot of 6pm on a Friday evening. The Knights sit just two points out of the top eight, but due to their significant negative points differential, will need a massive win and a string of other results to got their way in order to move up into the eight.

The high-flying Panthers head into this clash as the heavy favourites and look ready to pounce on the Knights. Coming off a loss last week, a win on Friday on the road will be the perfect way to bounce back. With a Panthers win, they could move up to second at the conclusion of the weekend, depending on how the Warriors fare.

Recent meetings

2017 – Panthers def. Knights 30-20
2017 – Panthers def. Knights 40-0
2016 – Panthers def. Knights 42-6
2015 – Panthers def. Knights 30-12
2015 – Knights def. Panthers 26-14

The Panthers have been utterly dominant over the Knights in recent years, winning their four most recent matches, and three by significant margins. The Knights are a far more improved team this year, but the Panthers are too. This trend might continue for the foreseeable future.

Selected teams

Knights

Panthers

1

Kalyn Ponga

Dallin Watene-Zelezniak

2

Ken Sio

Christian Crichton

3

Simone Mata’utia

Isaah Yeo

4

Nathan Ross

Dean Whare

5

Shaun Kenny-Dowall

Tyrone Phillips

6

Connor Watson

Tyrone Peachey

7

Brock Lamb

James Maloney

8

Herman Ese’ese

Trent Merrin

9

Slade Griffin

Peter Wallace

10

Josh King

Reagan Campbell-Gillard

11

Lachlan Fitzgibbon

Viliame Kikau

12

Mitchell Barnett

Corey Harawira-Naera

13

Aidan Guerra

James Fisher-Harris

Interchange

14

Danny Levi

Sione Katoa

15

Chris Heighington

Kaide Ellis

16

Luke Yates

James Tamou

17

Daniel Saifiti

Jarome Luai

Reserves

18

Jamie Buhrer ( c )

Wayde Egan

19

Cory Denniss

Nick Lui-Toso

The facts that matter

The Knights need the win this week so they can stake their claim for a top eight spot. While a loss will only drop them to 11th at worst, their negative points differential is already horrendous, and a loss won’t help that. Two home losses in a row won’t go down well with the fans, and it will be a real knock to the team’s morale.

Kalyn Ponga will be the x-factor for the Knights, and he’ll need to be at the top of his game in steering the boys around the park. The loss of Mitchell Pearce is massive, and somebody will need to fill that on-field leadership void.

The Panthers need the win to keep up their great momentum. Despite the loss last week, they can keep things rolling with a win on Friday, but a loss could see them take a tumble, particularly with a tight race at the top of the ladder. Round 10 is already upon us, and wasteful losses can’t be afforded. The Panthers need to rack up some wins before Origin season, where their team is likely to be gutted for selections.

James Maloney will continue to be the x-factor for the Panthers. He’s arguably been in career-best form this season, and an impressive performance against the Knights might all but secure his place in NSW’s halves pairing. He’s been one of the league’s best this year and he’ll be looking to continue on that form against the Knights.

Prediction

The Panthers will be too much for the Knights, even in the pressure cooker of McDonald Jones Stadium. The Panthers have been too strong of late, and Newcastle will struggle to match their output.I don’t think Friday’s match will be necessarily close, but the Knights won’t go down without a fight. Penrith to win 26-10.

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